In the mid-1980s, WHO reported that “pets that are properly cared for bring immeasurable benefits to their owners and society, without endangering anyone.”
Indeed, it has long been common knowledge that pets (be it dogs, rodents, reptiles – depending on your affinities…) have a positive effect on adult health as well as on the child’s growth and development. In adults, socializing and caring for a pet reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, and relieves unpleasant emotional states. As far as child development is concerned, all research shows that children who are in close contact with their pets have a lower tendency towards allergies. When they have to take care of pets, children learn about responsibility and adopt good work habits. It is also an opportunity for them to learn to take care of themselves and be more sensitive and aware of others’ needs. Of course, it is the parents who care for the most important needs of their pet, but children can be left to care for their pets according to their age and capabilities. As in many other things, your child will build their relationship with animals according to your suggestions and behaviour. Therefore, keep your relationship with your pet full of care, tenderness and love.
Getting a pet
Before acquiring a pet, consider what kind of animal suits your family, housing, financial situation and lifestyle in general. There are three key things to think about: Environment, owner, and the pet itself. When deciding on a pet, it might be a good idea to keep in mind the following:
- what is the life span of your potential pet, and will it fit into your scenario then?
- when you go on vacation will your pet come with you or does it need adequate care?
- when choosing exotic pets (such as chameleons), check the availability of their food and inquire about the specifics of their living conditions.
If you have children and if you’re getting a pet for them, it’s good to know:
- children under the age of 4 are unable to control their impulses, so they can sometimes be rude to animals without even realising it. In addition, they tend to hug/squeeze the animal purely out of love and affection, and in the case of smaller pets, like hamsters, the consequences are clear.
- children under 10 cannot care for their pet completely by themselves. Regardless of how responsible your child is or how “tame” the pet is, pet care must be under your supervision.
- and of course children are generally very fond of animals, and will promise you everything and anything just to get a pet, but keep in mind that over time the child may start neglecting the pet, which means that pet care falls to you.
A cultured dog owner
Among all pets, dogs stand out as a highly sociable species that enjoys the company of humans, and by properly selecting the dog’s temperament and size, they can fit into different living conditions. As a result, dogs have become part our daily lives, the most common honorary member of our large family. As a dog is a pet we go with among other people, it is good to think not only about our relationship with the dog, but also about our behaviour towards other dog owners as well as our general attitude towards other people.
Nothing will reflect badly on the dog owner so much as the irresponsible behaviour which actually threatens the health of us all and damages the aesthetic and olfactory aspect of the urban environment. It is almost astonishing how many titles are dedicated to dog faeces and what kind of consequences can result from malpractice. Here are just some of them:
Many cities and countries have taken numerous measures to address this issue. For example, they put up bags and disposal bins to, in some places put a no-dogs-allowed sign, built dog parks… It seems that all this, however, is not enough until the level of awareness of the dangers threatening from the ground is raised. This article is aimed precisely at raising awareness, so let’s start with the question: Why pick up your dog’s faeces?
1. Legal obligation
Not picking up dog faeces is punishable by law. The City Council of the City of Poreč has adopted the “Decision on the Care and Treatment of Animals for Society.” You can read more about it in the Official Gazette of the City of Poreč No. 08-2002, 05-2003 and 04-2008. (available online). Quoting Article 39:
“The owner of the dog is obligated to clean up the public area if contaminated with their pet’s waste (faeces).” The consequences of non-compliance with this decision are, of course, a fine ranging from 300 to 2000 kn for natural persons..
2. Culture and mutual respect
People who clean up after their dogs send a clear message that they respect themselves as well as others around them. Public areas are a common good, we all use them. In all honesty, none of us like to step into someone’s “work” and wear that recognisable scent on their shoes. But this is perhaps the most benign of all that can happen to us. The newspaper clippings above are just a few examples of the possible consequences that can occur if you do not clean up the public area from dog faeces..
Dog, and other animal, faeces can be dangerous to health because it is a potential source of infection. Despite regularly taking your dog for vaccinations and clearing it of parasites, it can easily become infected again if it comes in contact with contaminated faeces. On the other hand, there are zoonoses – a group of infectious diseases that spread between humans and animals. Diseases and parasites can very easily be brought to our home on shoes without our notice. In addition, washing hands sometimes is not enough, as traces of the disease remain under the nails, so excrement that is not cleaned up is a particular danger for children playing in parks, lawns and in nature in general.
4. Conservation of nature and environment
It is your obligation to provide socialisation opportunities for your pet – habituating the dog to various stimuli from its environment. In addition, they need daily physical activity. It is equally important that your dog does not bore or annoy other dogs or people in parks or living nearby. Being a responsible dog owner means always being considerate to others. The assumption that your dog is not aggressive is not a sufficient argument for letting the dog go unattended. In addition to being punishable by law, it should be borne in mind that not all people are necessarily dog lovers as well, as the fact that there are breeds that are less sociable than other breeds. Just because your dog is friendly to other dogs does not mean that you should let him run while shouting: “He just wants to play” or “My dog is not aggressive.” Sometimes even the tiniest dogs can get out of control, but even if the dog is well-behaved, don’t let it get lost for the safety of your dog or even your safety.
Obazrivost prema drugima
Vaša obaveza je osigurati svojem psu socijalizaciju – navikavanje psa na različite podražaje iz njegove okoline. Uz to potrebna mu je i svakodnevna fizička aktivnost. Isto je tako jednako važno da vaš pas ne dosađuje bilo drugim psima ili ljudima u parkovima ili ljudima koji žive u blizini. Biti odgovoran vlasnik psa znači uvijek biti obazriv prema ostalima. Pretpostavka da vaš pas nije agresivan nije dovoljan argument za puštanje psa bez nadzora. Osim što je zakonski kažnjivo, treba imati na umu da nisu svi ljudi nužno ljubitelji pasa kao i činjenica da postoje pasmine koje su manje druželjubive od ostalih pasmina. Samo zato što je vaš pas prijateljski raspoložen prema drugim psima ne znači da ga trebate pustiti da otrči dok vi uzvikujete: „On se samo želi igrati“ ili „Moj pas nije agresivan“. Ponekad i najpitomiji psi mogu izmaknuti kontroli ali i ako je pas dobra ponašanja, ne dopustite da se izgubi radi sigurnosti vašeg psa pa čak i vaše sigurnosti.
And finally, interesting facts from around the world.
In Switzerland, before buying a dog, owners must take a course in which they learn about the rights of the dog, but also the obligations of owners and characteristics of certain species. Also interesting is the fact that they also have a pet lawyer who is legally entitled to represent animals.
Antoine Goetsche, Swiss Pet Lawyer
mr.sc. Sandra Milotti Ašpan